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Page last updated at 13:48 GMT, Friday, 6 November 2009

Politics Show Afghanistan special

Soldiers in Helmand

The Politics Show is in Afghanistan looking at the current state of military operations and the impact of the war on the lives of soldiers and their families in the UK.

We also meet Afghan people living in the UK and ask them how they feel about the conflict.

Afghanistan has been struggling to find stability as the Taliban insurgency continues to destabilise this troubled country.

The country's problems stem largely from ethnic, religious and regional rivalries.

Since the current conflict started over 230 British servicemen have lost their lives.

Some critics believe that the war in Afghanistan is unwinnable and that all British forces should be withdrawn from the country as quickly as possible.

Others think that the war is a political necessity in the war against global terrorism and extremism.

A military view

The most senior British general in Afghanistan, the Deputy ISAF Commander Lt General Jim Dutton, has warned that the murder of five soldiers by an Afghan policeman this week will not be the last atrocity of its kind.

In an exclusive interview with the Politics Show, Gen Dutton told presenter Jon Sopel that the deaths were "a terrible shock" and, initially at least, would lead to an increased sense of mistrust between British and Afghan forces. But he asked for the deaths to be "seen in perspective".

Lt General Jim Dutton: "The vast majority of policemen are doing a good job in Afghanistan...there is always going to be the odd one or two rogues"

Gen Dutton said, "It is terrible. The death of any soldier is always terrible and it's always a shock. And when we lose five in one go in these circumstances it is a particular shock.

"Our thoughts are always immediately with the colleagues of those who have been killed and injured and more so with their relatives back home who are having to absorb this awful news.

"But the circumstances as you say are particularly bad here - this individual was a policeman that we are training. But I would remind you that there are over 90,000 policemen in this country.

"We are building the police force and the army as quickly as we can. The vast majority of those policemen are doing a good job for the future of Afghanistan. As good as they are able to. There is always going to be the odd one or two rogues."

Jon Sopel has also been finding out what life is like for the armed forces at Camp Bastion as he visits Afghanistan.

He is advised on what to do if he comes under fire (get down) and what to do if the TV team have to evacuate (run, with pursuit vehicle providing covering fire).

Loss of lives

The human cost of the Afghanistan conflict is being questioned increasingly in the UK following the escalation in casualties.

Pamela Murray's son David was 19 when he was killed by a suicide bomber in Helmand Province in June 2008.

Pam Murray's son David was 19 when he was killed by a suicide bomber in Helmand Province in June 2008.

He was the 100th British casualty in Afghanistan.

David was killed alongside two other soldiers, including his colleague Nathan Cuthbertson from Sunderland.

But Pam Murray believes her son was let down by the government:

"He wanted a specially protective vest and he had to buy it himself. I know other parents who have had to buy desert boots for their sons because the standard issue kit isn't good enough."

Training and equipment

A Scunthorpe mum has a similar story to tell.

Joan Ford lost her son Matthew in Afghanistan in 2007.

Her son Lance Corporal Mathew Ford was accidentally shot by his own team during the storming of a Taliban fort.

Joan Ford from Immingham blames inadequate training and equipment shortages for the incident in 2007.

She has received an invitation to meet the Minister, Bill Rammell, after threatening to sue the government.

Robert Dicketts from Kent lost his son, Lance Corporal Oliver Dicketts, in the accidental crash in 2006 of a Nimrod aircraft which left 14 people dead.

Many soldiers go to army surplus stores to buy the clothes they need with their own money.

Last week a report into the crash accused the MoD of sacrificing safety to cut costs.

The report says that the aircraft was not airworthy and that more money should have been invested in replacing it.

For Robert Dicketts this means the accident was avoidable and it must not be allowed to happen again.

Fears for former soldiers

There is also increasing concern about the psychological and economic impact of the war on former soldiers.

Former soldier Matthew Fletcher told the Politics Show in the North East and Cumbria about what happened to him after he left the military.

Former soldier Matthew Fletcher talks about what happened to him after he left the military.

He became a drug addict and is now trying to rebuild his life.

The Politics Show has found that many veterans are living in poverty.

At the moment specialised support for veterans is mostly carried out by charities.

The Government says it is working to improve the network of care available for former servicemen and women.

The Afghans in Britain

The Politics Show has been talking to Afghans living in the UK to find out how they feel about the war.

We asked them if they feel that they have a good understanding of the purpose of Britain's mission in Afghanistan.

Abbie Aryan from the Afghan community in London says the war will only be won with a clear strategy but he understands why the public are sceptical.

They also talked about their views on the levels of corruption involved in the recent Presidential election.

The Afghans living in London agreed with people who are concerned about the justification of the war.

Abbie Aryan from the Afghan community in London says the war will only be won with a clear strategy.

The BBC Politics Show - Sundays - BBC One.

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